Althea Gibson was an African-American professional golfer and a tennis player, who became the first Black athlete to participate in the international tennis without the fear of her color and race. She broke all the racial barriers while playing professional golf.
Born on August 25, 1927, in Silver, South Carolina, Althea Gibson was a person with professional dreams and dedicated thoughts. She introduced a new trend in the world of sports especially tennis by winning some of the biggest sports titles. She didn’t care what people thought about her color and did hard work to reach the place she always dreamed about. Gibson’s family moved to Harlem, New York when she was very young. She had a struggling childhood where her family was trying to earn good bread and butter while she had to skip school some day or the other. However, she loved to play sports and soon made her good name in table tennis. Eventually, a famous musician noticed Gibson, who offered her to play tennis on local courts.
After winning some local games, Gibson got a chance to play on the Harlem River Tennis Courts. This great opportunity made her win her first local tournament which was sponsored by the American Tennis Association, an African-American sports organization dedicated to promote tournaments that were meant for Black players. After playing around 12 ATA titles from 1944 to 1956, she made a great history as the first African-American tennis player to participate in both the U.S. National Championship in 1950 and Wimbledon in 1951.
Gibson’s participation in the ATA tournaments made her way easy to take admission at the Florida A&M University and that on a sports scholarship. After graduation in 1953, she faced struggle once again and thought of leaving the glamorous world of sports to join the U.S. Army. It was the white-dominating sports era that was making Gibson even more frustrated. But there is always a breaking point in life when a former tennis champion made a statement in a local magazine that there is no player in America that can meet Gibson’s caliber. With all sorts of lucky tennis, Gibson also tried her luck once again and played golf, but with some hard luck in this field, she eventually returned to tennis.
Like Gibson’s childhood, the last few years of her life also faced intense hardship. She almost saw bankruptcy but was then helped by former tennis players Billie Jean King and many others. Her health started to went down, and on September 28, 2003, Gibson died due to respiratory failure while in her home in East Orange, New Jersey.